Can Dogs Eat Ham Shanks?

By Arnold Papadopoulos

That dogs love all kinds of bones seems so naturally obvious that it might come as a surprise that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration says that under no circumstances should dogs be given them. Of course, it is common knowledge that dogs should not be given fish, chicken or other poultry bones that splinter into shards and can cut their insides. But what about beef, lamb and pork bones? According to the FDA even these bones are dangerous for dogs. However, veterinarian opinion varies over whether no bones or just certain types of bone are best for dogs.

What the FDA Says about Bones for Dogs

According to the FDA bone chewing menaces dogs with a long list of dangers including broken teeth, mouth or tongue injuries, choking, constipation and abdominal infection. They suggest speaking to your veterinarian about artificial bone-like products for your dog to safely chew on.

What Some Veterinarians Say About Bones For Dogs

Some veterinarians say it is safe to give bones to dogs if you follow certain guidelines. Bones that splinter after being cooked like poultry, ribs, steak and pork chop bones should be avoided. The same goes for very small bones that might be swallowed whole and block the intestines. But large soft bones found at the end of legs, like knuckle bones, or in the tails of animals are softer than a dog's teeth and are safe for chewing in moderation.

Ham Shank Bones

Certain bones are harder than a dogs teeth and shouldn't be given to them. These include the shank, or lower part of the leg, bone. Rib, stew and steak bones are also hard bones. The danger is that a dog may fracture and break its teeth on them.

Treated Bones

Perhaps the best alternative is to give your pet treated bones. Pet suppliers sell specially treated real beef bones that are safe for dogs. These bones are sterilized, eliminating the risk of bacterial infection. They are long lasting and satisfy the dog's natural instinct to chew and exercise its jaws.